Oakland Raiders: Most Surprising Moves On Cut Down Day

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Aug 22, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson (12) catches a pass past Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden (25) for a touchdown in the second quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

D.J. Hayden Not Among Roster Cuts

It is perhaps only because the Raiders are so thin at cornerback and have no real viable options at the moment that Hayden was spared the axe in the roster cuts that got Oakland down to 53.

Going into his third season with the Raiders, Hayden has proven only that he is injury prone – playing in just 18 of the team’s32 games – and that when he is on the field, he’s inconsistent. At best. He has shown tremendous potential and has made a number of amazing plays when he’s been on the field. But he’s also been repeatedly abused by opposing receivers and has made a habit of looking really bad at times.

There is no question that Hayden has talent. But he has yet to show any of the polish, consistency, or football smarts one would expect of a former first round pick with two years of service under his belt.

And this year, he’s been an even bigger liability than ever. Hayden – healthy throughout the offseason and exhibition season for the first time in his career – has looked absolutely awful. He has been victimized on play after play after play. He’s been so terrible that Teddy Bridgewater, second year quarterback of the Vikings – recognizing just how terrible he’s been – repeatedly threw at Hayden. And had great success doing it. When he wasn’t giving up touchdowns, Hayden was giving up first downs, or drawing penalties – which extended drives and gave up first downs.

The only reason Hayden is still in the mix for a starting spot is because Oakland has almost nobody else to help plug that gaping hole.

Travis Carrie and Keith McGill will likely be the starting corners and Hayden will probably be relegated to slot duty. But his play has been so atrocious this exhibition season that the Raiders would be better off cutting bait and releasing him and allowing one of the other corners on the roster, Checkwa, Thorpe, or even Mcdonald to take over his spot.

This is a make or break year for Hayden, and judging by the early results, it is already broken – well beyond repair.

Eventually, McKenzie is going to have to realize that Hayden – along with Tony Bergstrom – will never, ever, ever develop into the player he thought they would when he drafted them. It’s better that he realize it now, cut them loose, and give those roster spots to players who can actually make a positive contribution to the team.

Next: Notes & Observations From The Preseason